Saturday, January 20, 2018

Just some pics

Friday made it up to the 50s and the snow was melting fast, at least where the sun could hit it. Saturday made it to the low 60s and the snow was melting even in the shade, although it's not quite gone. Maya and TJ and I did four miles on Friday. We took Trooper along on Saturday but kept it to three miles. The warm weather brought more people back out to the trails, but we mostly managed to avoid them all.

Maya, on the lookout for deer. She knows
that after the sun is down they are likely
to be seen just along the edge of the woods
coming out to munch on grass in the evening.

The ice is gone from the river now but there is still some on the
small streams the drain into it.

Trooper is getting to be an old man now, but
as far as Maya is concerned, he's still got it,

and always will.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Snow Day, Part 3, Maya on the Hunt

I'm going to indulge my obsession with Maya in this post. The dog fascinates me, amazes me, and at times frustrates the hell out of me. This is about my fascination with her. Her mind is as agile as her body, which is capable of scaling a 6' chain link fence and jumping a 4' fence from a standstill position. She's a hunter, a scavenger, a survivor. After the Great Escape the week after we got her, she was living rough, at large and on her own, for four weeks. I expect she survived with a combination of hunting small prey and scavenging from trash cans, but she actually gained weight in the course of the ordeal.

She heard something rustling in the snow-
covered grasses.
She no longer needs to hunt to survive, but she clearly enjoys it. It's apparent in her obsession with deer spotting when we hike, and yesterday I saw a more practical form of hunting in action, with more realistic prey. We were hiking the trail through the field at Pleasant Grove. They are allowing the natural vegetation to grow back so it's no longer being mowed. That means a lot of tall grass and small shrubs, all of which were covered in snow. Maya immediately sensed some small critter, whether by scent or sound I don't know, probably a combination of the two. Here are a series of pictures I snapped as she stalked and pounced at her intended prey. It got away, whatever it was, and I had no intention of letting her catch anything, but the fun was in the hunt for both of us.
And she went over to investigate.

It definitely piqued her interest and she went on point.

She left the trail for a closer look, and sniff,
pinpointing the location.

She jumps forward.

and then up,

all four feet off the ground, she pounces!

We head on down the trail, looking for another opportunity.

No luck, but she is undeterred. 

You can't be afraid to get your nose wet when hunting in snow.

I could write a tome on that tail of hers alone. 
It curves in at least three or four directions all
at once and it seems to almost act as a sensory
device. It's in "ready mode" here - alert and 
ready for anything.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Snow Day, Part 2, A Husky in His Element

The snow stopped Wednesday afternoon and the wind went down. I loaded up TJ and Maya and headed up to Pleasant Grove for a walk.

No one had been on this stretch of trail;
it was all ours.
Waiting until the sun was out on Thursday would have made for a prettier hike perhaps, but the adventurer in me wanted to be among the first on the trails. There is nothing quite like walking on untouched snow. There's a picture I have seen on Facebook of a dog looking out over a vast area, with the caption: "It's all mine, all I have to do is pee on it." TJ seemed to have that same attitude yesterday, as if the covering of snow wiped away all prior ownership claims and it was ours for the taking. We all did our part, but TJ put out the best effort. While TJ was busy marking every tree and clump of grass, Maya was in hunting mode, even more than usual. She was convinced that the snow covered grasses were concealing small prey underneath, rodents, rabbits, birds, whatever. I got a really nice series of pictures that I'll share tomorrow, but today's pictures are mostly about the Husky. 

I can't complain about the occasional snow day given the fact that dogs like TJ have to suffer through Virginia summers. TJ will go for a hike any time of year, but summer heat is tough on him. Days like yesterday were made for him. Not only did he enjoy the cold and snow, but he looks good in it too. 

We covered three miles, some on virgin snow, some following others' tracks or on the roadway. Walking in snow is tougher, and my legs told me that three miles on even a little snow was the equivalent of five miles on dry ground. 

Snow covered trees are pretty.

It was getting darker so I tried some pictures with the flash.
It really lit up his face.

I always love it when I stop while walking two dogs
and they turn their heads in opposite directions. It's an
efficient use of their resources, each scanning the
woods nearest to them, looking for prey or for threats.
The sweep of Maya's tail shows that she's fully engaged.
TJ doesn't have Maya's prey drive, but he is
still very observant and doesn't miss much.

TJ is more interested when we see other dogs or
people. Maya cares only for deer and other prey.

Towards the end of our walk the sun was going down and
the pictures are darker, the snow looks almost blue.
This wasn't deep snow, but it was enough to
require a different combination of leg muscles.
I think even the dogs were done after three miles.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Snow Day, Part 1, Snow Shepherds

This is the kind of snow I like: three to four inches, light, dry, fluffy, and gone tomorrow.

The prettiest pictures will be had tomorrow morning when the sun hits the snow before it begins to melt, but I'll be working and will probably miss most of that. I was hoping it would clear off this afternoon, but the snow and clouds lasted longer than originally predicted.
The balls didn't bounce and roll in the
snow and Theo usually had a snowy snout
from retrieving them, but he didn't mind.

When I took Max and Theo to the pasture to play ball it was still snowing and the wind was blowing. It was cold and I didn't last too long, but long enough to get some snow shepherd pictures. Later in the afternoon I took TJ and Maya for hike. The wind had gone down but it was still cloudy. I'll share those pictures tomorrow in part 2.

Max hears a different drummer most of the time, but he
engaged and played with Theo off and on.

This is Max, facing the classic shepherd
conundrum, stick or ball?
There's the ball you see hanging outside
his mouth and another one further back.

Theo (left) and Max (right). On a cloudy day their colors
don't show much.

Max may be crazy, but he is one gorgeous shepherd.

Max with tennis ball

Max (left) has lost his ball in the snow
and is eyeing Theo (right) who has two.

I don't think I've ever gotten a picture looking
directly into the tip of a tail like this.

Max on the run. When we first got him, he couldn't run
more than 10 feet without stopping to chase his tail and
scream like a banshee. He's not well, but he has made progress.